2012 Robert-Denogent Pouilly-Fuisse La Croix Vieilles Vignes 375 ml

Year: 2012
Appellation: Macon
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 92-94
White Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
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"The 2012 Pouilly Fuissé la Croix Vieilles Vignes comes from schist soils and even in nascent form it boasts a vibrant, energetic stony nose that shimmers in the glass. The palate is extremely well-balanced and complex: citrus peel and orange rind at first and then subtle mandarin and spice notes flowing through later. This is quite a mercurial Pouilly-Fuissé, coquettishly showing a different side of its face each time you come back. Superb.

On my second visit to this outstanding domaine in the village of Fuissé, located just a stone’s throw from Chateau Fuissé, I had the pleasure of meeting sons Nicolas and Audouin, along with père Jean-Jacques. Like last year, we tasted in their rather cramped barrel cellar, just in front of one of their foudres. Speaking to Jean-Jacques about his philosophy toward wine, I was reminded of tasting chez Lucien le Moine in Burgundy: the concept of long alcoholic fermentations (which were particularly glacial in 2012, passim in the Mâconnais) that engender more complexity in the wines. Chez Denogent there is a prolonged maturation in both foudres and barrels with minimal intervention. Jean-Jacques explained how with regard to 2012, they have done no racking or bâtonnage, and as a disciple of the Beaujolais ‘deity’ Jean Chauvet, no sulfur. And the great thing about these wines is that unless someone told you that this is essentially a “natural” wine, it certainly does not brandish those traits, but rather come across as scintillating, sensorial and certainly intellectual terroir-driven expressions of (mainly) Fuissé. You know, there is a sense of confidence that flows through this domaine – indeed this might have been the most impressive of all my visits in the Mâconnais. Speaking to all three, there is a sense of being on an assured footing, knowing how those gnarly old vines “tick," how to get the best out of those old boys. I tasted the 2012s still biding their time in barrel and all showed great potential, in my opinion better than the 2011s last year, demonstrating razor-sharp precision, perhaps more mercurial in the glass. Returning to Beaujolais, I also tasted their Beaujolais that comes from a single hectare leased from Jules Chauvet’s niece, Bénédicte, and of course made under natural winemaking tenets. " (WA)

Winery Notes:
When first tasting the wines of Domaine Robert-Denogent, it is essential to put aside any preconceived notions about the young, over-cropped whites of southern Burgundy. These are wines of a much different class, whose reflection of terroir is one more likely found farther north in the prestigious Côte d’Or. Jean-Jacques Robert took over five hectares of his grandfather’s vines in the Mâconnais just outside the village of Fuissé after finishing law school in 1988. Though most of the harvest had always been sold off to the cooperatives, the small parcels that made up the domaine were already understood to enjoy unique microclimates, producing Pouilly-Fuissés of great pedigree. Jean-Jacques soon came under the influence of two ardent defenders of terroir, the great master of Morgon, Marcel Lapierre, and American importer, Kermit Lynch. Little by little, Jean-Jacques has introduced radical changes to the domaine (while staying faithful to his grandfather’s wisdom about the complexity of the land), finally realizing its full potential. He is now joined by his son, Nicolas.

The Roberts’ individual vineyard parcels are planted with old vines (remarkably so!) on varied soils of granite, schist, limestone, clay, and gravel. Naturally reduced yields imbue the grapes with terrific concentration. The wines undergo a long, slow élévage in barrel that lasts anywhere from fifteen to eighteen months. They are bottled after two winters in barrel, a treatment more common (yet still far from the norm) in the Côte d’Or, and something that really sets them apart in the Mâconnais. At a fraction of the price of the appellations of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, to which they are often compared by aficionados and critics alike, the wines of Robert-Denogent offer tremendous value, wonderful richness, and impressive complexity. An added attraction for some—they age sooner than their counterparts to the north.